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Preparing for a Belly Birth (C-Section) Like a Postpartum Doula

Updated: May 29, 2023

Preparing for a Belly Birth (C-Section) Like a Postpartum Doula

It doesn’t happen often but sometimes birth plans change before we even get into the delivery room. Here are some tips I give my clients when preparing them for a scheduled c-section:

Give yourself space to process

It is okay not to be okay. When you’ve spent 8+ months preparing for a vaginal delivery and plans have to change, it's normal to need time to pivot and even mourn the loss of your hopes. When we have a set amount of time before delivery I encourage clients to take a few days for processing before we look at what comes next. This can look like:

  • Scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional.

  • Taking extra time for self-care such as journaling, getting out in nature, meeting with supportive friends, and so on.

  • Being extra careful around setting boundaries with loved ones who might not honor your feelings.

  • Addressing your spiritual needs by making time for meditation, prayer, and introspection.

  • Connecting with your partner.

  • Calling your doula!

Make a new birth plan

Just because your birth plan has changed doesn’t mean you cannot have an amazing birth. Once you’ve given yourself space to process I recommend the client reach back out to me and we create a new birth plan. I really like “Making Peace with Cesareans” episode on the Birth Kweens Podcast. It includes a rundown of the procedure, gentle C-sec

tion techniques, vaginal seeding, and more. You have the right to customize your C-section. I encourage you to meet the OBGYN who will do your procedure to make sure you like them and that they are willing to honor your birth preferences. Lastly, see if your doula can meet you in post-op!

Reassess your postpartum plan

I personally believe that regardless of how you deliver you should do the same things for postpartum recovery (i.e eating nourishing foods, resting, staying in and around your bed). However if you are having a belly birth I am more concerned about stairs. I encourage clients to stay in bed for the first week after birth and then walk up and down the stairs once a day the following week. This recommendation is a preventative measure, to ensure your stitches can heal well. You can add a mini fridge to your room, as well as a nursing cart stacked with snacks to make sure you stay fed.

If your partner isn’t able to take time off to support you I highly recommend either engaging family/friends to help regularly or hiring postpartum support. Your ability to lift things will be restricted and you will need help with laundry, cooking and so on.

Consider your feeding plan

Just because you are having a c-section doesn’t mean you won’t be able to breastfeed or that it will necessarily be harder. Plenty of my clients have had successful breastfeeding journeys following their bellybirths. I would recommend talking to your provider about doing skin-to-skin right after the baby is born (if everything goes well), as well as making skin-to-skin a priority in the coming days.

You can also consider prenatal expression of colostrum (something to discuss with your provider) just in case you do have a hard time latching after the procedure. This can be done for a number of days prior to birthday. Harvested colostrum can be stored in syringes and brought to the hospital in a cooler, just in case you need it.

Lastly if you’re worried about breastfeeding because you’re having a belly birth, connect with an IBCLC before delivery. They can usually see you right when you get home, from the hospital, to give you some of that extra support.

Be proud and get excited!

Your body is amazing! It made a baby and will carry you and your baby through abdominal surgery. Having a belly birth is not the easy way out and it doesn’t make you any less of a mother. You will still have to give birth. Your labor will just look a little different.

I recommend clients pray/meditate/envision their new birth plan, especially that special moment when they meet their baby. Your disposition plays an important role in medical outcomes. Feeling confident in the way you’re giving birth can make your experience 100% smoother.

Happy birthing!



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